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The China Post - - ARTS -

oman in Gold” has a rich story to tell. The true ac­count of Maria Alt­mann’s fight to re­claim a famed Gus­tav Klimt paint­ing of her aunt, “Por­trait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I,” first stolen by the Nazis and then ap­pro­pri­ated by Aus­tria af­ter the war, is laced with riv­et­ing his­tory, deep and com­plex emo­tion, and fas­ci­nat­ing bu­reau­cracy. Yet direc­tor Simon Curtis’s ren­der­ing of Alt­mann’s tale, though re­spect­ful and pretty, is some­how life­less.

There is al­most too much here for a sin­gle movie. Curtis, who charmed with his Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe slice of life “My Week with Mar­i­lyn,” re­lies on a com­bi­na­tion of flash­backs of Maria Maria’s s pre-war life in Vi­enna and the present day tick-tock of her legal quest to take own­er­ship of the paint­ing.

Played in the present by He­len Mir­ren, Maria is a prickly woman with a thick Aus­trian ac­cent. She owns a bou­tique in a fancy part of Los An­ge­les and, fol­low­ing the death o of her sis­ter, has made up her mind that she would like to claim what is hers. The man she concon vinces to help her is Randy Schoen­berg (Ryan(Rya Reynolds), a dull cor­po­rate lawyer with a pres­ti­gious pedi­gree and a few poor ca­reer choices on his re­sume.

It’s been over 60 years since Maria fled Aus­tria dur­ing World War II and she is sick­ened by the thought of re­turn­ing, re­fus­ing to even speak the lan­guage when they ar­rive abroad to plead their case. In Vi­enna, they’re helped by a young na­tive jour­nal­ist (Daniel Brühl) who func­tions mostly as a hu­man ex­po­si­tion ve­hi­cle.

With two ac­tors as charm­ing as Mir­ren and Reynolds an­chor­ing the story, it’s a bit dis­arm­ing that their charisma never re­ally man­ages to en­er­gize the slug­gish tale. Part of that is for ef­fect — they’re sup­posed to grow to love and ad­mire one an­other while he learns to re­spect her his­tory — but the even­tual pay­off doesn’t connect. Th­ese char­ac­ters aren’t equipped to de­liver the lively gen­er­a­tional com­edy that this story so des­per­ately needs.

The flash­backs, rang­ing from Maria’s child­hood to her early 20s (“Or­phan Black’s” Ta­tiana Maslany), are meant to con­tex­tu­al­ize Maria’s plight. We see a spir­ited d girl’s life up­ended by the war, the bru­tal­ity of the Nazi regime and the face­less in­dif­fer­ence of her fel­low coun­try­men. But, seeped in the oblig­a­tory sepia and lace, th­ese se­quences are as ad­ven­tur­ous as a paint-bynum­bers, with the ex­cep­tion of a heart-pound­ing chase se­quence.

A re­cur­ring theme through­out the film is that ev­ery­one has forgotten the hor­rors of the Holo­caust — that no one re­ally cares about the living

Cour­tesy of CatchPlay

He­len Mir­ren stars Maria Alt­mann, a Jewish refugee that tries to re­claim the paint­ing that she be­lieves be­longs to her fam­ily.

Ryan Reynolds stars Randy Schoen­berg, a dull cor­po­rate lawyer that was con­vinced to help make a claim of Maria’s paint­ing.

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